Sacramento, CA – It’s back to the drawing board for head coach Mike Malone and his Kings. After a having a week off and acquiring Derrick Williams in a trade, Sacramento lost 104-98 to the Los Angeles Clippers.
Without All-Star Chris Paul, the Clippers had no worries as they relied on their bench to pick up the slack. Paul missed his first game of the season with a sore right hamstring. Darren Collison started in his place but it was Jamal Crawford who provided the spark on offense.
“I knew with Chris Paul not playing, they would give Crawford the green light to take over the game,” said Malone. “I put this loss on me, I have to do a better job of not allowing one player like Jamal to win the game for them.”
Crawford came off the bench leading all scores with a season-high 31 points and 11 assists. He was unstoppable and created space everywhere on the floor. His perimeter shooting was excellent, especially after LA blew a five-point lead late in the fourth quarter.
“It’s weird because I’m 33, yet I feel like I’m getting better,” Jamal said. “My teammates helped me to get open and provided great defense. I’m learning more and I’ll continue to get better.”
The Kings rallied back late in the fourth with high flying dunks and good defense. With 2 minutes left in regulation, Williams dunked over Blake Griffin and the referees called a foul giving LA the ball. Once the Clippers inbounded the ball Derrick snuck in on the right for another dunk, this time in counted.
Rookie Ben McLemore hit two free throws to tie the game 94-94 with 17 seconds left. Crawford had a chance to win it for LA but missed a three-point shot at the buzzer. Sacramento hit the first two baskets to take an early four point lead in overtime. But poor execution and missed three-point attempts in the final 70 seconds led to the third loss to the Clippers this season.
“We should have done a better job as a team playing defense on him [Jamal Crawford],” said Greivis Vasquez. “He scored way too many points.”
After last Tuesday’s trade that sent forward Luc Mbah Moute to the Minnesota Timberwolves for [Derrick] Williams. The Kings were hoping for a fresh start to begin the 4-game homestand. Derrick started at small forward and finished with 12 points, six rebounds and four assists. Not much of a team effort on keeping the opposing guards contained, this has been a problem for Sacramento all season.
“That’s the issue right there, containing point guards has been a problem for us,” explained Mike. “We can’t contain the perimeter and we’re getting hurt from the three-point line a lot. It’s a matter of keeping the ball out of the paint.”
DeAndre Jordan recorded a career-high nine blocks, 10 points, and a game-high 15 rebounds. Jordan kept DeMarcus Cousins frustrated the entire game with only one foul. Blake finished with 21 points and 12 rebounds. LA extended their winning streak to four games while Sacramento continues to find ways to turn things around from their 4-10 record.
“Jamal was on fire tonight, we had to get some stops despite playing through him,” DeAndre said. “We definitely wanted to frustrate Cousins and get him out of his game and I think we did a good job of that.”